We were very lucky to have Terry and Mala here for the Namgyal Celebration long weekend. They gave a variety of offerings, including a Namgyal puja, and various sessions exploring awareness in movement. I would like to share some of my personal experiences in participating in their final movement class.
Firstly, there was an encouragement to feel the support and the safety of the ground, and to rest into that. And to slow down, bringing awareness to all of our movements. To let go of the various patterns we get caught up in. To feel the aliveness throughout the body and sensing the body in space, on the ground, with other beings and objects around.
Then there was the encouragement to move from this place of awareness through various postures – lying down, crawling, standing up on our feet, and feeling the support of our backs and strength of our legs. Moving and connecting with our innate sense of movement and connection with the environment, and landing in various postures.
Then from this place of awareness, we were encouraged to follow the movement and bring awareness to exploring our relationship with our environment. This might include meeting objects in space, and also other beings. One example which Mala later encouraged me to explore and I have since worked with is chairs: to go underneath a chair, lean on it, pick it up, rest on it in an unusual posture…and slowly let go of the habitual automatic-pilot pattern of just seeing a chair as something to sit on.
Similarly there was the opportunity to explore meeting other beings from a place of awareness and not having any agenda or expectation. Breaking up the habitual patterns that may arise in relation to other human beings in our day-to-day interactions, and instead just exploring the qualities of movement and touch without any agenda for that to flow in any particular direction. And staying in touch with what feels wholesome in one’s own being.
Interestingly, being asked to stay in touch with the needs of this being without being given a ‘norm’ of behaviour to conform to or hide behind which was dictated as being the ‘right way’ to behave so as to be safe and free from criticism or judgement from the group…but just being encouraged to follow and act upon whatever felt wholesome in this being…felt very liberating and also brought up fear and anxiety. A habitual feeling that being open and honest to the needs of this being was somehow dangerous, especially when in the middle of the circle and being seen by so many people…fear of judgement, and a desire to suppress my own emotions and needs and just put on a facade until I could run away and hide somewhere in a corner!
Fortunately, there was no room to hide or try to control or manipulate the situation in any way. Mala encouraged me to stay present and just be with it all, and to allow both the uncomfortable feelings and the pleasant feelings to flow through, including them all in the experience, just as were encouraged to include the ground, the sky, and other beings. To be there with it, with gentleness. And I was faced with my own raw emotions of joy, bliss, open-heartedness, and fear, and vulnerability, and power and strength, and so many other things. With the loving support of the group which helped me to feel held and allow the healing that needed to take place, and the support of the Wangapeka. Which was a beautiful experience. A space was made to allow it all to just be there, and to move through, and allow it to morph into a deepening into the flow of experience and opening from my shells.
And while that sense of anxiety and needing to control and avoid suffering frequently continue to raise their ugly heads in day-to-day life, and I continue to frequently react unmindfully to that and act from a place of fight or flight, there are also many moments when I watch it, feel the support of the ground, remember I don’t need to run, and allow it to become whatever it needs to be. To flow through in the river of life, and allow that natural expression in a way which does no harm and brings peace and harmony within myself. And a growing commitment and determination to continue with the practice as long as there is work to be done.
And knowing that even with all my bumps and warped bits, there is still always the possibility of the Dharma glinting through. I am reminded of Leonard Cohen’s quote: ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ So this has been a wonderful part of my journey of discovery in letting go and allowing the unfolding of the Dharma.
Many thanks to Terry and Mala, and all who showed up and did the work with open hearts and minds, helping to create an atmosphere of loving kindness and goodwill and compassion and joy and harmony.
May all beings (including this one) awaken speedily
Banner Photo by Jenny Kelso